3.17.2012

In My Mailbox (17)

Welcome to another week of In My Mailbox, a meme where I post books I've received in the last week, hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

This week, I got four books:



For Review:


Forgiven by Jana Oliver (thanks to St. Martin's Griffin!)


Bought:



Cross Fire by James Patterson
Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson


From Library:


The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson


What did YOU get in your mailbox this week? Leave me a comment with your link!

3.11.2012

Review: Two Truths and a Lie by Sara Shepard

Two Truths and a Lie
by Sara Shepard

Goodreads Summary


Sutton Mercer watches from the afterlife as her long-lost twin, Emma Paxton, takes over her identity to solve her murder. But after ruling out her early leads, Emma still hasn’t found Sutton’s killer. A lot of people wanted her dead—but one name keeps popping up: Thayer Vega. When the gorgeous and mysterious Thayer returns to town, Emma has to move fast to figure out whether he’s back for revenge…or if he already got it. 

Set in a town where friends can turn into dangerous enemies and everyone harbors dark secrets, The Lying Game is a juicy new series that fans of the #1 New York Times bestselling Pretty Little Liars series—and the hit ABC Family show—will love.





Review


I'm a bit underwhelmed here. I just can't help but feel like the book series has lost pizzazz since the TV series has started. 

In Two Truths and a Lie, Emma Paxton is living the life of her twin sister, Sutton, and trying to figure out who murdered Sutton. The book is narrated by Sutton watching over Emma, so it's in third person and first person at the same time. It still weirds me out. Sutton doesn't comment on things much, so it reads like third person limited from Emma's point of view, and when Sutton does comment on something, sometimes I don't even realize it and I feel like it's Emma. You would think I would be used to the narration after three books, but it still gets kind of confusing. 

I'm also kind of bored with the who-dun-it game we have going on. I feel like I solved the murder a long time ago. I hope the murderer isn't as predictable as I feel it is, but also not as completely abstract as in Shepard's Pretty Little Liars series. I think each individual book doesn't have a detailed enough arc. 

I think there are maybe two plots in this entire book, the plot of the murder and the plot of the Lying Games. Just having two plots isn't substantial enough to satisfy readers -- we want multiple things going on. In Shepard's Pretty Little Liars series, there are four narrators, and each narrator has two or more subplots in and of themselves. That's over eight overall plots arcing throughout the series. The Lying Game books have three total, one for the overall series and two for each individual book. I feel like Shepard needs to add some more beef to this series to show its true potential. 

Another thing about Two Truths and a Lie that bugged me is how short it is. I feel like the ending was rushed really badly, and I also felt like there wasn't a climax. If the climax is what I think it is, I don't think a memory of Sutton's can count as a climax since technically it's just a flashback and not necessarily a current plot event. It didn't seem to wrap the book up for me, and I felt like it just sort of ended mid-paragraph. That being said, I'm still moderately excited for the fourth -- and hopefully final -- book in the series, because Shepard writes really explosive series endings. Hopefully, I'll enjoy that one more than I did this one. 

With Two Truths and a Lie, I was expecting an eruptive ending like the one we had in Never Have I Ever, the second book in the Lying Game quartet. That book literally had my heart pounding and my pulse racing and I couldn'twait until Two Truths and a Lie was out just to see what Shepard would do next. But when I turned the final page of this book, I felt disappointed, like Shepard didn't step her game up. I do commend her, however, for having the stamina to write and edit so many books a year. She has a rigorous schedule, and I think it's fantastic how she can keep up. 

Let's move on to things I liked about the book, shall we? 

I really liked how Emma was trying to change Sutton's character and make her nicer. She was mending friendships and acting respectful toward adults, and since Sutton's watching over everything she does, Sutton might have a revelation and realize that it's not okay to treat people the way she has been for seventeen years. I appreciate those improve-yourself aspects. Shepard usually isn't too good with character development, but she's putting Emma on a path to really change who Sutton is. This is a major improvement over previous books of hers. 

I also enjoy, still, how Shepard plots. Her plotting is tight, and you can tell there aren't any extraneous scenes. Unlike some authors, she doesn't put random sexy times or kissy times to please the fans that like that kind of stuff. She does things that are necessary only; she doesn't write filler books, which makes me glad. 

There's nothing I dislike more than an author who adds books on to a series just for length and fan appeal and money *coughcough* BECCA FITZPATRICK *cough* (C'mon! You ALL know Silence wasn't necessary.) 

Besides Emma and Sutton, the characters thrive. I can't help but compare them to the TV show. I'm really glad the TV show didn't make everything the same. In the books, Ethan is a total dweeb/nerd/dork and Thayer is the ultimate bad-boy eye candy. In the TV show, it's reversed, which might seem odd to some, but it works. 

There's also another key aspect of the TV show that's different. Sutton's actually alive in the TV show. They're not trying to find out who killed Sutton, since Sutton isn't dead, but rather trying to find out who their birth mother is. The TV show is filled with so many wicked cliffhangers at the end of episodes, but unlike with the books, you only have to wait a week, as opposed to a half of a year, or more. 

I enjoyed the book immensely, even though it didn't get the normal five-star Shepard rating because of the few flaws I found while reading.

Review: Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien

Birthmarked (Birthmarked, #1)
by Caragh M. O'Brien




Goodreads Summary


In the future, in a world baked dry by the harsh sun, there are those who live inside the wall and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife, Gaia Stone, who live outside. Gaia has always believed it is her duty, with her mother, to hand over a small quota of babies to the Enclave. But when Gaia’s mother and father are arrested by the very people they so dutifully serve, Gaia is forced to question everything she has been taught to believe. Gaia’s choice is now simple: enter the world of the Enclave to rescue her parents, or die trying.

Review


I'm having a very hard time deciding whether or not this book is dystopian. It certainly has the foundations of it: a misguided government, the Wall (because every dystopian has some to have some inanimate object capitalized), etc. 

I had a smooth start with Birthmarked. The opening scene shoved me straight into the action, and I got a glimpse at how screwed up the world actually was. Gaia was mildly likeable; I certainly didn't have a problem with her. The way O'Brien crafted the society was interesting, but I still have a few questions about it. I felt however, as I got rolling in the book, that it began to drag. Birthmarked was just a bit too long for my taste. I found that I didn't appreciate some scenes, and there were some that I just skipped over because I couldn't find any value to them. 

The slowness wasn't the only flaw of the novel. Gaia was likeable at first when she kept her mouth shut and obeyed the rules, but she changed almost instantly, transformed from a normal girl with a zipper on her lips to a girl emerging from the shadows with the zipper torn off and bravery only rivaled by the Lion, post-Oz of course. I found over the course of the rest of the novel that Gaia just wasn't likeable anymore because her transformation from outspoken to outbursting was just too fast; there wasn't any development to her character. It just happened, and that infuriated me. 

You all know that it's hard to read a book when you don't give a rat's ass about any of the characters. Sadly, that was the case with Birthmarked, at least after the beginning. I couldn't love it anymore after the characters left me in the dust. Birthmarked is a dystopian society plagued with midwife Gaia Stone who quickly learns that you can't get anywhere without opening your mouth. If only she knew of a thing called "moderation" . . .

Review: Dreamless by Josephine Angelini

Dreamless
Josephine Angelini
Release Date: May 29


Goodreads Summary


As the only Scion that can enter Hades at will, Helen descends to the Underworld in search of a way to overcome the Furies and end the cycle of revenge that has cursed the Scions. But she’s running out of time. Each descent weakens her both in mind and spirit. A mysterious stranger might be her only salvation, but the price may be her love for Lucas Delos. 
As an unforgettable love triangle emerges, Josephine Angelini’s compelling saga becomes ever more intricate and spellbinding. The eagerly awaited sequel to the internationally bestselling Starcrossed, Dreamless delivers with a huge emotional impact that will leave readers satisfied—and longing for more.

Review


Google, define "sophomore slump" for me, please. 
"A sophomore slump or sophomore jinx refers to an instance in which a second, or sophomore, effort fails to live up to the standards of the first effort."

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the antithesis of a sophomore slump.Angelini steps up the action and the passion and the sizzling tension in DREAMLESS; in fact, breathing isn't an option. You'll be holding the air in your lungs and turning pages faster than you can believe. 
Helen Hamilton just can't catch a break. She needs to descend into the Underworld, since she's the only one who can, and find the Furies to complete a mission she's been set on . . . but she can't control her descents and she finds herself in random and painful scenarios. She meets someone in the fiery pits of Hell named Orion. 
A fierce love triangle emerges from the darkness. Helen and Lucas are taking a break, since something happened in Starcrossed and led to them breaking apart, but Helen can't keep her mind off of him. 
Helen enters the Underworld in her dreams. At the beginning of the novel, I wasn't thinking this was how it was going to happen and when I found out it was, I was instantly relieved. I wasn't looking forward to a long, grueling journey where the heroine would be away from everyone in Nantucket for so long. The way Angelini did this was great. 
And can I say now how much I just love the cover?! Whoever designed this cover needs a raise, because I am barely able to look at that book without mentally swooning. 
Dreamless is the first HarperCollins ARC I've ever read, and it was definitely a great start. 
With rich mythology and a passionate love triangle, DREAMLESS takes the intensity up to a whole new level! Be prepared to be swept off your feet.



Five Owls

Review: All These Lives by Sarah Wylie

All These Lives
Sarah Wylie
Release Date: June 5

Sixteen-year-old Dani is convinced she has nine lives. As a child she twice walked away from situations where she should have died. But Dani’s twin, Jena, isn’t so lucky. She has cancer and might not even be able to keep her one life. Dani’s father is in denial. Her mother is trying to hold it together and prove everything’s normal. And Jena is wasting away.

To cope, Dani sets out to rid herself of all her extra lives. Maybe they’ll be released into the universe and someone who wants to live more than she does will get one. Someone like Jena. But just when Dani finds herself at the breaking point, she’s faced with a startling realization. Maybe she doesn’t have nine lives after all. Maybe she really only ever had one.

Review:




Let me first just say that the reason I've been reading this for over a week isn't because of its insufferable boringness. It's actually because of my insufferable workload as a high-school sophomore. If it were, say, the weekend when I started this, my review would've came in frantics and complete hysterics, full of gushing and an insurmountable number of typos.

ALL THESE LIVES is much different than I thought it was going to be. The story and the premise remind me slightly of Imaginary Girls (and so does the cover!), but there were quite a few differences. The plot was actually existent in this book, not shrouded in gorgeous writing as was the case in IG. The sisters are much closer in this book and much more relatable.

Dani Bailey is a fraternal twin, and her other half, Jena, has cancer. Dani has been different all her life because she has nine lives. Or, she did have nine lives. She lost some when she got in a car accident and caught an infection in her chest. To cope with the pain of losing her sister, she goes out and rids herself of all of her extra lives, hoping they'll fly out into the universe and hopefully toward someone who needs/wants them more than her, like her sister.

ALL THESE LIVES is a very original story, and when I say original, I mean original to me. I've never read a book where a person had more than one life. It wouldn't suffice to say the subject of the novel intrigued me. The book starts off with a bang of a prologue, explaining how it feels for MC Dani to die. From there, I was hooked.

One of the subplots of the book is Dani's acting career. She's trying to land a lead in a toothpaste commercial, and Jena's progressing death is conflicting with her dreams. Everything Dani feels in the book is so realistic, it's almost as if you're right there. I've never known what it's like to lose someone you truly love (I've been very fortunate) besides a distant family member, but if I was losing my other half, I know what I'd feel, and it's exactly what Dani is feeling.

The writing of the book is good. A few solid gems are interspersed throughout, a few emotional lines that feel like punches in the gut.

I definitely know I'm going to add this to my real-life shelf when it is released in a few short months!



Five Owls

In My Mailbox (16)

What a big load of books!
Just so you all know,
a) I'm not filthy-stinking-rich with money falling out of every crevasse in my body, and
b) These aren't all from the last week.
This is pretty much a big compilation of all the books I've gotten in the last month, so don't worry too much.
I have them organized a certain way. The ones in the stack are all bought, and the ones on the side were provided for review.

Let's get these listed:

FOR REVIEW:
Destiny and Deception -- Shannon Delany (Thank you to St. Martin's Griffin for that one!)
Arise -- Tara Hudson (Thanks to the author, Tara, for the contest and for personalizing it all coolly!)
Original Sin -- Lisa Desrochers (Thanks again to the author, Lisa, for the contest and for the bookmarks/personalization!)
The Hunger Games Companion -- Lois Gresh (Thanks to St. Martin's Griffin again for that one!)

BOUGHT:
Switched -- Amanda Hocking
Torn -- Amanda Hocking
Delirium -- Lauren Oliver (re-reading that one now -- it's really good!)
Pandemonium -- Lauren Oliver
Fever -- Lauren DeStefano
Fallen In Love -- Lauren Kate
Two Truths and a Lie -- Sara Shepard
Immortal Beloved -- Cate Tiernan
Darkness Falls -- Cate Tiernan
Shattered Dreams -- Ellie James
Toys -- James Patterson
The 9th Judgment -- James Patterson
Live Wire -- Harlan Coben
Lenobia's Vow -- PC Cast ( + Kristin Cast)

Thanks again to Tara Hudson, Lisa Desrochers and St. Martin's Griffin for these awesome books!

3.07.2012

Waiting on Wednesday (6)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Today's Waiting on Wednesday is about a book I have read, so obviously I'm not the one waiting for it! But I think all of YOU will be! This book was so fantastic. You all have to promise me (*pinky promise*) that you're going to buy this book the minute it comes out. I promise you will fall in love with it the way I have. If you are a member of NetGalley (http://www.netgalley.com/), you can get it on there!

Here is the cover and description of this wonderful book:

All These Lives
by Sarah Wylie
Releases on June 5, 2012

Sixteen-year-old Dani is convinced she has nine lives. As a child she twice walked away from situations where she should have died. But Dani’s twin, Jena, isn’t so lucky. She has cancer and might not even be able to keep her one life. Dani’s father is in denial. Her mother is trying to hold it together and prove everything’s normal. And Jena is wasting away.
To cope, Dani sets out to rid herself of all her extra lives. Maybe they’ll be released into the universe and someone who wants to live more than she does will get one. Someone like Jena. But just when Dani finds herself at the breaking point, she’s faced with a startling realization. Maybe she doesn’t have nine lives after all. Maybe she really only ever had one.

What's your pick this week?

Leave a comment and let me know!

3.06.2012

COVER REVEAL: Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia + Margaret Stohl

A lot of you have been waiting not-so-patiently for the next book in the Caster Chronicles series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. We got a title a few weeks ago (Beautiful Redemption) and now we have a cover!

Without further ado . . .

BEAUTIFUL REDEMPTION!






Personally, I absolutely love the green. I think it stands out very well and it'll look beautiful on a shelf, especially next to the others!

What do you think? Leave your comments in the comments!

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